by Kayleen Gill, who is one of my TEENWriters.

Kayleen playing Hanna at the launch party for Janet Lee Carey's Dragons of Noor in 2010. Note baby dragon on shoulder.
Kayleen playing Hanna at the launch party for Janet Lee Carey’s Dragons of Noor in 2010. Note baby dragon on shoulder. Photo by Heidi Pettit, LitArt Photography

You know you’re a fantasy writer when…

1. …you spend countless hours inventing an Elvish alphabet.
2. …you have an ongoing debate with a friend over whether dragons are irredeemably evil or not.
3. …you’re worried that the FBI might investigate you because you keep Googling things like combat strategy, defenses, fortifications, weaponry, explosives…
4. …you mutter nonsense syllables to yourself, trying to decide if they sound Elvish or not.
5. …you interview an EMT and one of your questions involves a stabbed character in a subterranean environment.
6. …you’re playing capture-the-flag on horseback and think, “Huh, I could use these sensory details for a cavalry battle scene…”
7. …you wear a sword all day just to see what it would be like (annoying, FYI).
8. …you own a long black cloak with a big hood that makes you look like a Nazgul.
9. …you know that it’s really hard to swordfight or run around in the woods while wearing the above cloak.
10. …you are visiting Hawaii and buy a necklace with a pendant that—to you—resembles a dragon’s tooth.
11. …your desk is covered with plush dragons.
12. …your friend gives you a necklace for your birthday and you thank her and exclaim, “It looks so Elvish!”
13. …your friend knows that’s a compliment.
14. …you own both Dragonology and Monsterology and pore over them as if they were ancient texts.
15. …you study other cultures so you can use them as inspiration for your invented ones.
16. …you study history to look for fodder for your books.
17. …your friends tell you that your ears are getting pointier.
18. …you study biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, medicine, and just about every other aspect of science, mining for interesting tidbits of information to use.
19. …you know the definition of words like “ramparts,” “battlements,” “crenellations,” and “portcullis.”
20. …you own a book titled Knives and Swords: A Visual History and regularly flip through it for reference and ideas.
21. …you have a collection of miscellaneous trinkets such as a shiny blue stone, a “dragon’s fang” on a leather chord, and a vial of random herbs.
22. …you pretend that the above items have magical properties.
23. …you build models of palaces on Google Sketch-Up.
24. …someone asks if you can speak in tongues and you want to know if Elvish counts.
25. …cold, misty nights give you wonderful scene ideas.
26. …tombs give you the chills, but in a good way.
27. …someone asks what your favorite animal is and you immediately answer “dragons,” “phoenixes,” or “gryphons” without a second thought.
28. …you have been known to use invented swear words as exclamations.
29. …you’re driving through the desert and envision an army on the ridge above you and decide that this would be a perfect location for an ambush.
30. …also in the desert, you spend several minutes taking pictures of a canyon, trying to figure out how your characters can cross it.
31. …you always have a camera on hand for field trips and vacations because you never know when you’ll find some inspiring scenery or architecture.
32. …the boyfriend/girlfriend of your dreams has pointed ears.
33. …you are convinced that Santa’s “elves” are imposters and are actually gnomes.
34. …you’re taking notes in the middle of church that have nothing to do with the sermon.
35. …your siblings know that your notes have nothing to do with the sermon.
36. …you never, ever go anywhere without a notepad and pen.
37. …you can describe what a dragon smells like.


You Know You’re a Fantasy Writer When…